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When Germany's Christian Democratic Union met this month to select a new leader, Europeans probably felt the same way.Not only is the CDU Germany's largest party; it is also the largest in the European Union. Among the three contenders to replace Merkel, Friedrich Merz was the most vocal proponent of a more active approach at home, within Europe, and abroad. Some saw in Merz a chance to restore the CDU's right-wing character, thereby saving Germany's two-party system. Apparently, Merz came off as too cold, analytical and impersonal for the CDU delegates.Still, as a Polish-speaking, Polish-born politician in Germany, he may show a special understanding for Germany's important eastern neighbor, as has Merkel (whose grandfather changed his surname from Kazmierczak to Kasner in 1930).Given the heightened tensions within the EU and between Europe and the U.S., Germany's habitual defensive politics will no longer suffice.
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